From the FanPosts -Joel
As I was listening to the Dave Dameshek podcast the other day (yes, I know that's a bad idea) the subject came up of whether Eli Manning deserved to be in the Hall of Fame one day. Dameshek swore up and down he did, as his statistics would be in the top 5 of most categories by the time his career was finished, and the two Super Bowl rings on his fingers accentuated that. I normally say leave the ring talk out of it, as, by that measure, Terry Bradshaw is the third-best QB of all time behind Montana and Brady. However, I got to thinking about passing yards as a stat for Hall of Fame consideration.
If you look around the league, completion percentage, yards per game, TDs per game, all the stats like that have gone up in recent years, and by no close margin. This makes comparing players like Joe Montana and Len Dawson to modern QBs much more difficult than it should be, as history aficionados will point out the decreased difficulty that QBs face today (true) and men who appreciate today's game will point out the huge statistical caverns between today and yesterday (also true.) So how do we determine which modern QBs should get into the Hall of Fame, as if we go by statistics, Matt Stafford could very well end up in the top 5 of passing yards by the end of his career, and by default a HOFer.
So I came up with EAPG, or Era-Adjusted Passing Yards per Game. This is still a work in progress as of this article, so I'll try to keep updating the method to increase accuracy, but the function of this stat is to give a better method of comparing QBs from different eras of the league, by using their individual statistics compared to league averages.
The formula I use is simple. Take a QB's average passing yards per game number for a year, and divide it by the league average number for that year to give you the League Exception Number, or LEN; the idea is, for every 1 yard that the league passes for on average, your QB passes for his LEN. Then, you can compare the LEN statistic of any two QBs of any era, and see how they stack up on a per-game basis. LENs run on a scale from 0.0 to 2.0, with league average being a 1.0; if your QB's numbers are above a 1.0, he is a better-than-average passer, and if below 1.0, he is a worse-than-average passer.
Let's try it out with Terry Bradshaw. In 1979, Terry Bradshaw's best year statistically, he passed for an average of 232.8 YPG, with the average number for the league being 180.4, making his LEN for the season 1.29. Apply that to this season's YPG number of 241.5, and Bradshaw would have passed for roughly 312 EAPG, good for 4986 yards and second-best in the league.
You can also apply the method in comparing today's inflated stats to olden times. Let's take Drew Brees, the NFL's YPG leader last year, and compare him to 1979. Brees has 325.5 YPG this year, with a LEN number of 1.35. Using the formula with 1979's YPG total, Brees has a 243.1 EAPG.
Is this a perfect stat? No, definitely not, and I'll try to work on it further as I get more time to research. However, it is a starting point, and gives us a new way to measure a QB's efficiency.
So, for one final exercise, I'll calculate Alex Smith's LEN for the year. Smith averaged 233.5 YPG this year, and after doing the math, that makes his LEN a measly 0.96. In fact, Alex Smith has never had a LEN above 1.0 during his Chiefs career, with his LENs being: 2015, 0.89; 2014, 0.91; and 2013, 0.93. That's not good. To contrast, Trevor Siemian had 242.9 YPG this year and a LEN of 1.01, and Andy Dalton had 262.9 YPG and a LEN of 1.09.
Obviously, passing yards don't tell the whole story. However, it can be used to help determine whether a QB is a truck, pulling his team behind him, or a trailer, being pulled by his team. And from my system, it appears that Alex Smith isn't a truck.
(All numbers were pulled from either pro-football-reference.com, nfl.com, or sportslistoftheday.com, the only place I could find this kind of number from the early days of the league.)